The question the citizens of the United States will have to ask shortly is not merely how on earth a person like this is a viable candidate for president.
The question is really: how could the United States enable a sitting President to carry out this scale of crime?
Let’s just summarise what Donald J Trump is up for already:
Also he is now a confirmed rapist and lost in a civil case and had to pay the complainant millions of dollars.
On the 4 counts of conspiracy while he was president he will be arraigned this week:
Watch the wording of the last one, because it comes out of Section 241 of the United States Code:
“Of two or more persons conspire to injure, opporess, threaten, or intimidate any person … in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him by the Constitution or laws of the United States.”
This one was enacted by Congress out of the Civil War, going way back to enable Federal agents to go after the Ku Klux Klan who were in full domestic terror mode to suppress the right of black people to vote. It was a law against terrorists suppressing votes.
That kind of origin should send a chill of resonance to what Trump as a hard right leader sought to do.
All four felony counts are to do with conduct by Trump as the sitting president at the time.
That’s new territory for the United States. It’s not like the Muller report which was mostly about the fistfights you gotta do to win the most powerful job in the planet.
All four felonies start on November 14th which is the day Prosecutors say Trump knew he had lost the election. That gets to intent.
Two charges then end on January 7th 2021, which is the day after the attack on Congress.
Two charges end on January 20th 2021, which is the actual day of the inauguration of President Biden.
Two further useful things out of this. We now know that the Justice Department will bring charges against a past President about crimes committed while they were president. Once they have left office there is no executive immunity necessarily, ever again.
The second is that the Justice Department recognises that Donald J Trump conspired to overthrow the government by force.
That puts the actions of Donald J Trump on a par with any other coup plotter from Niger or Fiji or Myanmar. That’s a new step for the United States since Lincoln.
The opening salvo of the indictment really gets to this:
The defendant Donald J Trump was the 45th president of the United States and a candidate for re-election in 2020. The defendant lost the 2020 presidential election. Despite having lost, the defendant was determined to remain in power. So for more than two months from election day on November 3rd 2020, the defendant spread lies that there had been outcome-determinative fraud and that he had actually won. These claims were false, and the defendant knew that they were false.
But the defendant repeatedly and widely disseminated them anyway – to make his knowingly false claims appear legitimate, create an intense national atmosphere of mistrust and anger, and erode public faith in the administration of the election.
The defendant had a right like every American to speak publicly about the election and even to claim, falsely, that there had been outcome-determinative fraud during the election and that he had won. He was also entitled to formally challenge the results through lawful and appropriate means, such as by seeking recounts or audits of the popular vote in state or filing lawsuits challenging ballots and procedures. … His efforts to change the outcome in any state through recounts, audits or legal challenges were uniformly unsuccessful.
Shortly after election day the defendant also pursued unlawful means of discounting legitimate votes and subverting the election results. In so doing, the defendant perpetrated three criminal conspiracies …”
and then lays out how all of them taken together attack a bedrock function of the United States government to gather and certify and apply the results of voting in elections.
The purpose of the conspiracy was to overturn the legitimate results of the 2020 presidential election by using knowingly false claims of election fraud to obstruct the federal government function by which those results are collected, counted and certified.”
I am particularly happy that co-conspirator four is highly likely to be Geoffrey Clark who was a high ranking official inside the Department of Justice at the time who was prepared to work as a public servant to greatly assist in overthrowing the elected government. That’s your Deep State in operation there for the hard right.
I am also happy that all but one of the co-conspirators are lawyers, whose profession usually shields them from indictment from prosecution of crimes. They are not named in the indictment. But they can keep that cloud of ignominy over them for the rest of their natural lives, and perpetual shame for a lawyer is enough for the most part.
The full text of the charges is here.
Just for fun you can read the full text of the documents-case indictments here.
I’m not going to announce vindication for the Democrats after those long January 6th hearings, or confidence in the US judicial system, or anything like that.
I’m just going to enjoy the Republicans tearing each other apart trying to defend or defrock their best politician this century. In the months to come all the evidence will radiate outwards into society as each of the pre-trial hearings and manoeuvers shine their specific spotlights.
And of course there are more charges to come from the state of Georgia.
And the more Trump appeals to each layer of the court into 2024, the more voters he will turn away in disgust.
And at that point, only at that point, will they be able to answer the question I put to begin with.